A few days ago I sat down and with the Spokesbear and had a talk. It wasn’t a pleasant talk. It never is when the Spokesbear isn’t happy, even when he’s trying to be nice about it, and in this instance he was both very unhappy and very pleasant about his unhappiness.
The gist, more or less, went something like this: “Your process over the last twelve months has been arsetastic and full of whine. Perhaps you’d like to do something about this, dumb-ass.”
It’s very hard to argue with spokesbear when he’s right. Also, it’s hard to argue with him when he makes the face. You know, this one:
It’s the face he makes when he’s disappointed by things. The Spokesbear is wise, but the Spokesbear is not particularly patient, and refusing the face usually ends up with me getting mauled in the night. Which, lets face it, is slightly embarrassing when the thing doing the mauling is a stuffed bear that just happens to be the repository of your own subconscious for the purposes of having conversations about your process.
Look, don’t judge me. I’m an SF writer whose allergic to cats and talks to a bear, I’ve got enough problems.
Among them is this – for the last nine months, my process has been very Oh god, I must write, oh woe is me. I’ve said this shit in public. Very recently. Somehow people didn’t hit me, which is quite frightening, to be honest, because I felt like punching myself in the face. There have been plenty of things to whine about over the last twelve months: my dad’s health problems; summer in Brisbane while living in a shack made of asbestos sheeting; Australia’s increasing inability to elect a government that is not composed of pragmatic fucktards willing to throw everyone and anyone under a bus in order to get re-elected; the day-job I worked up until July, which achieved levels of suck I didn’t know existed in dayjobs and entirely validated my decision not to get one prior to my thirty-forth year on the planet.
But writing, fuck no. You do not get to whine because writing is hard. You do not get to whine because you have to do new things. You do not get to whine about selling things before they’re written and having deadlines. You do not get to complain that things are scary.
You just have to harden the fuck and up and write the things that need writing, then move on.
You will fail at some things and it will suck, but you’ll feel much better about things if you go down swinging.
You will feel like arse if you hit the canvas without throwing a punch, content to wallow in your own self-pity. Mindset is everything in writing, and things work so much better when I actually believe I can take over the world using the written word as a weapon.
My self-image as a writer has taken some heavy body-blows this year. I’ve failed to hit deadlines. I’ve been unable to write due to real-world messes. I’ve lost track of projects. And really, arse to the lot of it, because my self-image as a writer has been part of the problem. I let myself think, “its okay, I can write fast when I have to,” which is a blatant load of bollocks. I don’t write fast, I write persistently. I can manage 5oo words in an hour on a good run, but lots of free writing days and a dogged determination to reach wordcount goals created the illusion I could do more. It didn’t even require big wordcount, just regular practice and the refusal to give in.
So we have a plan, me and the Spokesbear. It goes something like this:
1) I do not work faster, I work harder.
2) Treat your business like a business.
3) Get shit done. Take over the world.
If I fail at this, I hereby request people punch me. Hard.
Now if you’ll excused me, there’s a very smug Spokebear who’s offering a rewarding snuffle for getting today’s wordcount done and going back to the wordmines for more.